How to Prepare for a Golf Tournament (Tip #2) - The Golf Course Map
Now that you have your yardage book (or have ordered one), it is time to go to Google Maps and search for the golf course which you will be playing. Once you locate the golf course, make sure to toggle on the “satellite view”. Now, you should see how all the golf holes are oriented on a north-south-east-west grid. Use the print screen button to take a picture of the golf course and paste it into a word document. This golf course map is your new tool to help you better prepare for your upcoming golf tournament.
Why is the course map important?
The primary function a course map will serve is to help you better judge the impact that the wind or weather conditions will have on your game plan. Your entire course strategy could change depending on the strength and direction of the wind on a given day. Given that weather forecasts, especially wind direction and strength forecasts, have improved significantly over the years and are much easier to find on your iPhone or Android device, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to gather this information ahead of time and think through how it will effect the tee shot and approach shots on every hole on the course.
Adjusting your expectations and your game plan / course strategy for the wind
The wind can affect the direction of your golf shots significantly. Hitting a shot directly down wind will cause the ball to fly farther (sometimes 10-20 yards more) and will help the shot fly straighter since any push, pull, hook, or slice will be reduced by a helping wind. However, a shot directly into the wind will cause the ball to fly farther off target than if there was no wind.
Subsequently, holes that play into the wind (especially a strong wind) will play significantly harder. Each shot will travel less distance, increasing the length the hole will play. Also, your shots will travel farther offline increasing the potential for trouble off the tee and around the greens.
Left-to-right winds tend to also be difficult for most golfers since this wind will cause a fade or slice to turn more from left to right. A right-to-left wind may help reduce the amount of side spin on a fade or slice, helping the ball travel straighter, but you will also get less distance from each shot. The opposite is true for a draw or hook in both of these circumstances.
Down wind holes will play much easier because you ball with travel farther and straighter. It pays to take advantage of these holes when the wind is really blowing since you will eventually have to turn back into the wind and it will be harder to score well.
Knowing ahead of time which holes will play easier and which will play harder can help you better manage your expectations before and during your round and better take advantage of opportunities that the golf course is giving you that day. Play more aggressive on down wind holes given those will tend to be your best chances for birdies, while pars may be good scores on holes playing into the wind.
Steps for Using the Golf Course Map
- Learn which direction the wind will be blowing from (i.e., a northerly wind is a wind come from the north). Be specific. If the wind is a SSE wind, make sure to accurately reflect this in later steps.
- Mark a few lines (in pencil) across your course map to note the direction of the wind.
- Look at each hole and see how the wind will be affecting that hole specifically.
- Use your yardage book to notate the approximate angle the wind will be blowing for each hole that day (i.e., at the top of each hole’s page – draw an arrow that shows the wind direction – be accurate); note that it’s easy to lose track of the wind direction on any given hole because the trees prevent you from throwing grass into the air or there are swirling conditions; your course map can tell you which way you should expect the wind to be blowing, creating one less worry
- Walk through your round and adjust your game plan and your expectations for each hole depending on the direction of the wind and how it changes the setup for each hole.
Perhaps you should hit driver instead of your normal three wood on that shorter par 4 that will play much longer into the wind. Perhaps a long par 5 will now be reachable in two shots given you will get an extra 20-30 yards per shot when it’s severely down wind. Trying to think through these things real-time on a tee box can cause you to lack confidence in your club selection or make you miss out on a good birdie opportunity.
Utilize the course map and wind information before you ever step foot on the golf course and you may just reduce your score by at least a stroke or two. That’s good golf course management skill right there. At the very least, you’ll walk onto every tee box and not be surprised by the conditions you face.
We hope you enjoy our golf tournament preparation list and that it helps lower your scores. Good luck in your next golf tournament!